DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – No agreement was reached between Dayton police and fire union leaders and the City of Dayton on the city’s vaccine mandate.
Beginning Monday, November 1, the City of Dayton will require weekly COVID-19 tests of its unvaccinated employees, even after Dayton Fire and Police departments warned of potentially dangerous effects on public safety.
“There will be longer response times for the calls for crimes, there probably will not be enough EMTs or paramedics to respond to medical emergencies, and not enough firefighters to respond to fires,” said Derric McDonald, VP of Dayton FOP Lodge #44.
According to a release by the City of Dayton, personnel will no longer be allowed to use personal time to be paid for absences due to the vaccine mandate. Employees will now be sent home without pay.
“They’re going to enjoy time at home without pay,” said City of Dayton human resources director Ken Couch. “It’s a test, there are no exemptions to testing. There are consequences to choices and if you’re not going to get vaccinated then you’re going to test.”
The HR Director for the city stands by the legality of the mandate, while fire and police officials are worried about employees being sent home.
“The result of today and moving forward sits on the desk of the city manager now,” said president of Dayton IAFF Kraig Robinson.
City officials say every union outside of police and fire have also filed charges against them.
“All the unions have filed charges against me, I’m a really popular guy right now,” said Couch. “They all filed similar charges claiming that our managerial bar we’re hitting is a violation of their contract. We’ve obtained counsel, we’re going to defend that both in arbitration and state employment relations because we believe it’s a managerial right.”
Representatives for Dayton Police say one unvaccinated officer was sent home Monday without pay for not testing, but are worried after this first week, there will be many more.
“We had at least one sent home who was willing to work, ready to work, no mental deficiencies or physical deficiencies but he was sent home because of the testing protocol and lack of collective bargaining,” said Dayton FOP 44 executive board member Zachary Williams.
With the November 2 elections just one day away, Dayton mayoral candidate Republican Rennes Bowers feels the city has overstepped with the mandate. “”It’s not the rule of government. The rule of government is public safety. Nobody voting for these city commissioners to be their health advisors,” said Bowers.
However, opponent and current Dayton city commissioner Democrat Jeffrey Mims, Jr. feels the mandate is a positive protective measure. “The average every day citizen will feel more comfortable knowing that the individuals they come in contact with are safe,” said Mims.
“It’s not the rule of government. The rule of government is public safety. Nobody voting for these city commissioners to be their health advisors.”
In a release made Thursday, October 28, The City of Dayton explained that tests will be provided by the City, however, if an employee refuses to test, they will be dismissed without pay until such time as they provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test obtained through their own resources.
As of now, union leaders say there’s not set plans for another meeting with city leaders, but that they won’t give up the fight.